Chia seeds are the edible seeds of the plant Salvia hispanica.
Chia seeds are very small in size and usually black or white in color. They have a very mild, nutty flavor and crunchy texture when dry. When mixed with liquid, chia seeds will swell and absorb up to ten times their original volume of liquid—this results in a gel-like consistency similar to that of soaked tapioca.
The seeds can also be sprouted in a moist environment to yield chia sprouts.
When kept cool and dry, chia seeds have a very long shelf life. They are not particularly prone to rancidity, but storage in the freezer may help retard this if it is a concern. Soaked or sprouted chia seeds have a shorter shelf life and should be consumed within a week.
Chia has a variety of uses in sweet and savory preparations. They can be eaten raw, which adds a crunchy texture to dishes. Their swelling power makes them useful in puddings, and they can also be used to add body in gluten-free baking. They may also be used as an egg substitute in some recipes by combining 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of warm water and allowing it to gel. Chia sprouts can be used like other sprouts and microgreens, such as in salads or sandwiches.